|Chapter 11||Table of Contents||Chapter 13|
The Reception, July 23, 2055
Mom and Dad's old friends, university people, and a gaggle of 32nd cousins chattered and whispered at tables throughout the reception hall. Matt and Jon had disappeared. I was doing my best to represent the family. Everybody wanted to express their condolences in person. It was long and drawn out. People I hadn't seen for years kept coming up to me to commiserate and chat.
All at once Jon was standing behind me. "It is decided," he said.
"Matt's going to sell me his share of the house."
Dad had told us what was in his will and I knew that Matt was thinking about leaving, so it was no great surprise. It wasn't like Matt needed the money. He was doing it for Jon.
"Now the question is, will you sell me your share?" said Jon.
I was startled and felt that this was neither the time nor the place to be discussing such matters. "I'm not sure...uh...Not likely. I'm sticking around."
Elsie Finnegan, the widow of one of dad's old friends, put her hand on my arm.
"Why Matt, you boys look so much alike."
"Hello Mrs. Finnegan. I'm Luc actually."
"Well I declare! I don't know how your father ever coped with the three of you."
"With a lot of love and understanding." I smiled.
"And a big stick," Jon put in.
Elsie, bless her bones, actually laughed. She knew my father was not abusive. "Your father and I were very close in the early days. It was nip and tuck whether the institution would survive for a while, but he never wavered, never doubted the rightness of what he was doing. Education didn't have a very high priority when people were starving. We struggled to raise funds any way we could. I remember one time..."
My eyes drifted around the hall and I noticed a woman with a big smile watching us from across the room. I didn't know who she was, but she was attractive. I had noticed her come in with Adelle. She was one of those ripe, full-bodied women who make you think of milk and honey. While Elsie rambled on about dad's early days, the stranger locked eyes with me and slowly approached.
When she drew near she took Mrs. Finnegan by the elbow and said, "Excuse me. Mr. Fontaine, could you come and look at my car now?"
"Oh, yes... certainly."
I smiled at Jon and Mrs. Finnegan expressing my regrets. Olivia took my arm and led me out of the hall. Mrs. Finnegan carried on reminiscing to Jon.
It had been raining, but we had progressed to sun showers. The front lobby was full of boots; the walls lined with overcoats. As I fumbled with my jacket, I said to Olivia, "You have no idea how much I appreciate your rescuing me."
"I could see."
"But what was that about your car?"
"Malarkey for the old lady."
As we stepped out into a sunny break, I asked, "Well, where shall we go?"
"Wherever your little heart desires."
I looked at her a little startled.
At that, she gave me an impish grin and said, "Stick with me and you'll never be bored."
We drove to the river. Olivia was sweet and attentive. I couldn't believe someone so beautiful was interested in me. She wanted to know what I did, so I told her about my research in genetics. I turned the tables and asked her what she did.
"I put out fires," she said.
"What do you mean?"
"I am an intervention speciallist. I work with abandoned children, abused women, refugees --- any vestige of humanity that drags itself through my door."
"A social worker?"
"A crisis facilitator."
"What does that mean?" I asked.
"It's a type of social work. I deal with immediate crises." She grinned and put her arms around my neck. "I have even been known to take on the odd scientist." Then she kissed me, a long smouldering kiss that took my breath away. "But you are not in crisis."
To say I was startled would be an understatement, but I wasn't complaining. I kissed her back and soon things were hot and heavy.
We talked about everything --- the colour of her hair, cosmology, ConSec, family obligations, the colour of my eyes, being a triplet, human identity...
Two hours later we were in bed together.
Excerpted from _The Bottleneck Years_ by H.E. Taylor
For further information see:
A Gentle Introduction.
Last modified October 30, 2012